RALEIGH — New N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore handed out gavels to state House committee chairs Wednesday, including several to members from the Western North Carolina region, in a ceremonial signal that the chamber is formally organized for the session ahead.
Hendersonville Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady received one of the top jobs in any session. He’ll serve as one of four chairs of the House Appropriations Committee, which undertakes writing the state budget. Last session, McGrady chaired an Appropriations subcommittee on education, but this year, as one of the so-called “big chairs,” he’ll have an expanded role and different purview.
McGrady, now in his third term, said the committee has shifted from five main co-chairs to four, and it hasn’t been decided yet just how the responsibilities for different parts of the state budget will be broken out.
“Traditionally, I’ve done a lot of work in the environment area and in transportation, so those would be natural for me,” he said in an interview with Carolina Public Press on Wednesday.
McGrady said it’s too soon to say whether predictions of a less dramatic session than those of the recent past will come true, but the idea makes sense.
“It’s been four years since the Republicans have been in the majority in the General Assembly and the governor is halfway through his term, and so I think it’s sort of natural — having accomplished the things we specifically ran on — that we’re more about tweaking bills we’ve already passed and taking incremental steps in the direction we’ve been going in,” he said. “I don’t have a sense we’re looking at any dramatic policy shifts, but it’s still early.”
With the move up the ladder, McGrady said he’s expecting a somewhat heavier workload. “I have a suspicion I’ll be here weekends and nights a little more than I was before.”
McGrady also will serve as a vice chair of the House Environment Committee and as a vice chair of the Judiciary II Committee.
In other appointments, Moore returned Rep. Roger West, R-Cherokee, to the key Appropriations Subommittee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, where he will serve as a co-chair. West, whose attempt last year to work out a another legislative fix for the the annual New Year’s possum drop in his district met a successful legal challenge, will also co-chair the committee on Wildlife Resources.
Rep. Michele Pressnell, R-Yancey, earned her first gavel on Wednesday. She’ll co-chair the committee on Commerce and Job Development.
Pressnell and West were also named vice-chairs of the overall Appropriations Committee.
Moore tapped Rep. Chris Whitmire, R-Transylvania, to serve as a co-chair of the new committee on Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs. Whitmire was also named vice chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.
Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Watauga, was named co-chair of the committee on Children, Youth and Families and co-chair of the Judiciary II Committee. He’ll also serve as vice chair of the committee on Regulatory Reform.
Rep. Josh Dobson, R-Avery, was named co-chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. He will also serve as a vice chair of the Education Committee on Community Colleges
Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, was named a vice chair of Finance Committee and a vice chair of the Committee on Public Utilities.
Although Moore named almost no Democrats to senior committee roles, he did name two veteran WNC Democrats to vice chairmanships.
Rep. Susan C. Fisher and Rep. Joe Sam Queen will serve as vice chairs for the committee on Aging. Fisher will also serve as vice chair of the Appropriations subcommittee on General Government.
Individual committee assignments for WNC representatives
Rep. John Ager, D-Buncombe: Agriculture; Alcoholic Beverage Control; Appropriations; Appropriations/General Government; Children, Youth, and Families; Education/K-12; Judiciary IV; Local Government
Rep. Josh Dobson, R-Avery: Alcoholic Beverage Control; Appropriations; Appropriations/Health and Human Services; Banking; Education/Community Colleges; Health; Insurance; State Personnel
Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe: Aging; Alcoholic Beverage Control; Appropriations; Appropriations/General Government; Education/K-12; Elections; Local Government
Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford: Commerce and Job Development; Environment; Finance; Judiciary IV; Public Utilities; Regulatory Reform
Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Watauga: Aging; Banking; Children, Youth, and Families; Education/Universities; Finance; Judiciary II; Regulatory Reform; UNC Board of Governors Nominating
Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Yancey: Agriculture; Appropriations; Appropriations/ Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources; Commerce and Job Development; Transportation; Wildlife Resources
Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood: Aging; Appropriations; Appropriations/General Government; Judiciary II; Regulatory Reform; Transportation
Rep. Brian Turner, D-Buncombe: Appropriations; Appropriations/ Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources; Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs
Rep. Roger West, R-Cherokee: Agriculture; Alcoholic Beverage Control; Appropriations; Appropriations/ Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources; Environment; Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs; Wildlife Resources
Rep. Chris Whitmire, R-Transylvania: Agriculture; Appropriations; Appropriations/Education; Education/K-12; Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs; Regulatory Reform; State Personnel